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    Most Popular Songs (more)

    1Happy Song lyrics
    Death To Birth lyrics
    3Alone lyrics
    4Fetus lyrics
    5Voices lyrics
    6I Do lyrics
    7Amego lyrics
    8Sadartha lyrics
    9Lesson Learned lyrics
    10Botus lyrics

    Most Popular Albums (more)

    1Self Titled [2006]
    2The Pagoda Demo [2005]


    Pagoda founders Michael Pitt and Ryan Donowho met one day at a mutual friends house in 2001. Knowing that Michael was a musician, Ryan asked him to play one of his original songs. He did, and Ryan began playing drums on it, and a strong musical chemistry was immediately evident. Though displaying strong potential from the start, Michael hadn't taken one guitar lesson in his life. His friend Rodrigo of the band The Hermitt, was the one who "kinda got me off the street--he invited me to crash in this one-bedroom apartment in Chinatown with, like, seven other people. And he taught me how to play guitar," he says. One of the first songs he wrote was "Death to Birth" which has since become Pagoda's most recognized song. Ryan on the other hand was a semi-well known bucket drummer on the streets of New York who attracted the attention of a casting agent looking for a fresh new face to model Levi 501's in an ad campaign.

    From 2001 to mid 2004, the band brought in several friends to fill in on bass during live shows. Among them was Christian Zucconi, front man for the band Aloke. During Zucconi's time with the band, he filmed a music video for "The Happy Song," a melodic and sarcastic song that would see the light of day further down the road.

    Audiences got their first taste of Pagoda when the band contributed their song "Muskrat" to the soundtrack for "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things", Asia Argento's adaptation of JT LeRoy's confessional novel. Soon the band began playing shows on a regular basis, a gig at The Sidewalk Café in New York City being their first. The set was so exciting and full of energy and potential that it prompted Spin magazine to include Pagoda on their list of Underground New York bands to watch.

    The band posted an ad near NYU that said "cellist wanted, please call," followed by a phone number. Their best offer came from Indigo Ruth Davis, a teenaged cellist from Vermont who was attending a Waldorf school that focused on students' artistic pursuits. In the studio, the first track Indigo was given to play on was "Sadartha." He aced it on his first try and was quickly added to the band's line-up.

    While Michael was in Milan, Italy in June 2004, he met Luca Amendolara who was working at a recording studio as an engineer/producer. While he was laying down guitar and vocals for a song he was recording, Luca instantly saw a load of talent and expressed interest in co-producing the band's debut album. Michael liked the idea and Luca eventually became the bassist for the band as well, filling out the group's official line-up. The sessions ran from that August until February 2005.

    Now with a full band in tow, Pagoda released a five song demo that was given away for free at various shows. The EP featured five songs; "Death to Birth", "Fetus", "Sadartha", an experimental spoken word track titled "Song 1" and "I Do". Those who attended Pagoda's earlier shows noticed a drastic improvement in melody and song structure. Film maker/director Gus Van Sant also noticed the improvement and featured two songs from the demo on the soundtrack for his film "Last Days."

    In the film, Michael plays the leading role of "Blake", an introspective artist who is battling a drug addiction and the pressures of fame. In one particular scene, Blake retreats from the party his friends are throwing in his living room and plays a solo acoustic version of "Death to Birth." While this is one of the most powerful scenes in the film, Michael was apprehensive about contributing his own material. "I'm a musician and I didn't want it to just seem like I was doing it for personal gain," he says. "I think we shot the scene about seven times and every time I made up a song on the spot. The last time he asked me to play that song." He also contributed the song "That Day" to the film, on which he played every instrument using a loop machine. The video for "The Happy Song" was also featured on the DVD release.

    While working on the film, Michael became close to Sonic Youth members Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, who was working close to Van Sant as a music consultant. Moore also owns his own record label Ecstatic Peace and MTV reported that he was thinking of signing Pagoda. "I had no interest in an actor who has a band," Moore told the website Pitchforkmedia.com. "But then I realized he was just some Jersey kid who moved to New York to play in a band, and the whole acting thing was just something he fell into. Music was his real deal."

    Following the release of "Last Days" in 2005, Pagoda's demo became widely circulated on the internet due to being leaked by fansites and the band's Myspace page. Listeners immediately appreciated the amount of emotion in the band's wonderfully crafted songs and were converted to fans instantly. Pagoda played a series of dates that Summer before taking time off to work on various other projects, among them being Ryan Donowho's solo album.

    The band got back out on the road in October of that year to play a number of acoustic shows. That following January, they did some small club dates to promote their album which is set to be released this year. A particular show at The Black Cat in Washington, DC became a highlight of the tour and the audience responded to the new material in a big way.

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